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Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) — September 1992


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 9 (September 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Arenal (Costa Rica) Lava production and Strombolian activity continue

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199209-345033


Costa Rica

10.463°N, 84.703°W; summit elev. 1670 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava production, explosive tephra ejection, and gas emission continued from the summit area. The lava flow that had been advancing down the WSW flank stopped at 615 m elevation around the end of August and the beginning of September. Advance of the front appeared to have halted because of an interruption of the flow at ~1,100 m elevation, where overflows of block lava occurred from both sides of the lava channel. A flow that had begun to emerge in mid-August continued its advance toward the SW, reaching 720 m elevation and covering a grassy area. Overflows from the central part of this flow produced small avalanches. Strombolian explosions remained sporadic, but became more vigorous after 28 September, sometimes rattling windows in La Fortuna, ~6.5 km NE of the summit, and at an ICE facility in Sangregado, 7 km to the NW. Ash columns rose >1 km from Crater C, dropping ash on the flanks (see table 5), and blocks and bombs fell to 1,000 m elevation. Occasional pyroclastic flows were generated, extending to elevations of 1,300 m on the NE flank and 1,200 m on the N and S flanks. Vigorous fumarolic activity continued in the summit area. Little change was detected in volcanic seismicity, with an average of 25 events/day, peaking at 55 on 29 September.

Geological Summary. Conical Volcán Arenal is the youngest stratovolcano in Costa Rica and one of its most active. The 1670-m-high andesitic volcano towers above the eastern shores of Lake Arenal, which has been enlarged by a hydroelectric project. Arenal lies along a volcanic chain that has migrated to the NW from the late-Pleistocene Los Perdidos lava domes through the Pleistocene-to-Holocene Chato volcano, which contains a 500-m-wide, lake-filled summit crater. The earliest known eruptions of Arenal took place about 7000 years ago, and it was active concurrently with Cerro Chato until the activity of Chato ended about 3500 years ago. Growth of Arenal has been characterized by periodic major explosive eruptions at several-hundred-year intervals and periods of lava effusion that armor the cone. An eruptive period that began with a major explosive eruption in 1968 ended in December 2010; continuous explosive activity accompanied by slow lava effusion and the occasional emission of pyroclastic flows characterized the eruption from vents at the summit and on the upper western flank.

Information Contacts: G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE; E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI.